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Update: TESTING Seating Passes - Our latest attempt to improve the overall Alamo experience

We're trying something new to eliminate some of our common complaints about lines and seating. 

Update: TESTING Seating Passes - Our latest attempt to improve the overall Alamo experience

Update: Thanks to everyone for the feedback!  We love that we have such an active online community and the onsite feedback for our test has been really helpful.  The test is going well, so we’ve decided to extend our new seating model experiment at Lamar and open the new Alamo Slaughter Lane with the same system.   We have a few things to clarify from our last post:
         • The number of priority seats in any given auditorium is currently set at 20 seats.
        • It’s important to note that the priority ticket is not selecting a specific seat.  It’s simply allowing you priority access to the room before the rest of the guests
        • Per some of the suggestions at Lamar, we’re looking into options on upgrading the PA system for announcements, as well as creating some visual cues and displays for seating times

We also wanted to mention two other enhancements to the system.
        • At our Slaughter Lane location, the traditional ‘front row’ of the theater was not installed.  In other words, the actual front row of the theater is considerably further back from the screen than traditional theaters.  So, if you do arrive fashionably-late for the movie; take comfort in knowing you’re not nearly as close to the screen as you might be at Lamar.
        • Now, Lamar folks, this goes for you guys too, as we’ve taken one-hundred and four tickets out of the inventory.  What this means is that even though the show is sold out, you should not have to sit in that front row.  The row is still there for now, and you can sit there if you choose; but the point is that we’re only selling the prime seats at this point. So if you do show up late, you’re not stuck in that front row closest to the screen.

As we dug into the feedback more and more, we realized that guests were lining up early to avoid certain seats in the room (namely that front row).  By removing that row physically at the Slaughter location, we’ve tackled the problem.  By removing some of the seats from the ‘sellable inventory’ at Lamar, we hope to have tackled the same issue. We also learned that part of what drives guests to the lines early is the desire to get their favorite seat.  With priority seating, you have that option, as long as you show up prior to seating time. Right now that magic number is 35 minutes before start time!

Again, please remember that this is still a test, and for the time being it will ONLY be happening at the Alamo South Lamar and Alamo Slaughter.  As we roll out this test, we would love to hear from you about the experiences you have at South Lamar this week. Please continue sending jordan.michael@drafthouse.com your feedback regarding Lamar or email bryan.penley@drafthouse.com for comments about Alamo Slaughter Lane.  We'll take all ideas and critiques into consideration as we continue improving the experience.

 

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Here at the Alamo, we're constantly trying to find ways to improve your experience at the theater. We like to think that we've done a fairly decent job with innovating a lot of the theater experience, but over the years we’ve been really intrigued with finding a way to eliminate some of our common complaints about lines and seating. 

Recently, we experimented with a small reserved section at the Ritz.  We also did a short test of the same format at Alamo South Lamar. There was a lot to like about that model, but we found some difficulties regarding serving food in the theater and service sections that ultimately made the reserved seating module less than ideal.

We gathered quite a bit of feedback from our guests, staff and management during those tests, and now we're ready to give a different version a shot. So, we’re yanking the current reserved seating test and moving forward with our next Seating Test Drive at Alamo South Lamar.

Taking a cue from Southwest Airlines, we will begin issuing seating numbers and then letting people into the theaters in groups based on those numbers. Some of you may recall that we announced something similar to this a few years ago, but at that time we weren't able to get a full test going. This time, we are confident that we can put together a one-week test, gather more feedback, and continue to improve the system and our technology until we get the perfect mix of awesomeness.

But we'll get to that.  For now, let's talk about this Test Drive at South Lamar.  Here’s how it’s going to work.  You have two options on seating:

     • Priority Seating:  Guests who purchase the priority seating ticket option (Group A) will be prioritized by the purchase time of the ticket itself. A seating pass number will be generated on the ticket at the time of purchase for Group A.  Those guests will be admitted to the auditorium first, allowing these limited number of guests the ability to find a seat of their choice before the rest of the guests are admitted.  The priority seating guests must be present 35 minutes before the show time in order to get in first.  Like showing up late for boarding your plane at the airport, if you miss your seating time, you miss your chance to get in first! So make sure you’re in place 35 minutes before show time.  Important note:  There’s no seating advantage to showing up an hour early, but for those of you who tried reserved seating and found your favorite seat was not where you want it, this new test will work better for you.

     • General Admission Seating:  The seating number for general admission will be prioritized by the time of ticket pick up from the box office. A guest can guarantee an earlier seating pass number by picking up their tickets from the box office/kiosk early. You will, however, be able to pick up your tickets for any show at any time during regular box office hours (or from a kiosk). It could be the day of the show or weeks before the movie - any time after you've purchased your tickets they'll be ready for you at the theater. If you pick up your tickets early, however, please realize that we use thermal paper to print your ticket. Do not leave your tickets in your car, in your wallet, or anywhere else where it may fade. If you lose your ticket or have it fade due to mistreatment we will not be able to provide you with a refund and you'll lose your seating number completely.

When your seating time arrives, the seating groups will be announced over the PA by the usher in the lobby. The PA announcements can be heard in the lobby as well as outside on the patio. We will start by seating the priority folks, then we’ll seat in groups (i.e. B 1-40, then B41–80, etc, etc). If you have seating number B150, there's no reason to wait in the lobby or line up early as that will not get you into the theater any faster.

It's important to note that the seating number won't guarantee you a great seat if you are late to your seating time. We will continue to seat the remaining groups if you are late, and refunds will not be issued if you miss your seating group. In short, it's up to you to note your seating time and be back when you should.

Again, please remember that this is strictly a test, and for the time being it will ONLY be happening at the Alamo South Lamar from Feb 28 to Mar 6. As we move forward, we will also be well aware of trying out different versions of this for big midnight movies and special events. Our first order of business is to improve the regular visits to the theater, as we have more of those than we do big events.

This is a new system for us.  As we roll out this test, we would love to hear from you about the experiences you have at South Lamar this week. Please send us an email (jordan.michael@drafthouse.com).  We'll take all ideas and critiques into consideration as we continue improving the experience.

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